Crisis averted

INDUSTRIAL action at Loy Yang Power Station has been averted, with unions landing an ‘in principle’ agreement with the company on Saturday.

At a four-hour conciliation conference at Fair Work Australia, Loy Yang management overcame an impasse with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, surrounding working hours in the new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

The agreement brings to an end discussions which began in July last year, and came to a head last week when CFMEU members voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action.

Had Saturday’s conciliation failed to reach an agreement, Loy Yang A employees were due to begin reducing Loy Yang’s generation capacity to 450 megawatts per unit, down from a possible 580MW, on Wednesday, with the possibility of further reductions.

CFMEU mining and energy Victorian secretary Greg Hardy said the impasse centred around the union’s request to reduce the working hour week from 37.5 hours in the last EBA, which ended on 31 December.

While initially demanding for a 35-hour week, Mr Hardy said a number of “fixes and compensations” to shift patterns, lengths, and annual leave adjustments were offered, with the parties agreeing on 36 hours.

The agreement will bring Loy Yang A in line with Victorian industry standards and other Latrobe Valley power stations, which Mr Hardy said made the switch to the 36-hour week seven years ago.

The agreement included a five per cent per annum pay rise over four years for about 550 Loy Yang A power station and mine employees.

Unions are due to finalise details of the agreement with station management today.

Buyout underway

The stalled buyout process of Loy Yang Power has recommenced, with the Australian Competition Consumer Commission resetting a timeline for the sale’s clearance process.

The process was suspended earlier this month, after the ACCC requested further information from AGL Energy Limited, which is seeking to increase its existing 32.54 per cent share in the company to 100 per cent.

The ACCC will announce its findings in relation to AGL’s clearance application on 17 May.